Wellness Words September 2015

Wellness Words September 2015

HealthLink Littauer’sCarol Tomlinson-Head


Submitted by Carol Tomlinson, RN BS

Community Health Educator


Do’s & Don’ts Of Medication Safety

According to the Institute for Safe Medicine Practices, 40% of adverse drug reactions requiring hospitalization occur in people over age 60. This is, in part, due to the facts that people in this age group use 30% of all prescription drugs and 40% of all over-the-counter (OTC) medication.

Don’t gamble with your health! What you don’t know CAN hurt you. Every drug, whether prescribed or OTC, has potential side effects and may interact with other meds or food in a way that may not be safe. For example, antacids can affect blood thinner absorption as well as make some antibiotics ineffective.

To keep safe when you are taking medication, you need to follow this simple list of do’s and don’ts to make sure your medication works safely to improve your health.


  1. Do take each medication exactly as prescribed.
  2. Do make sure all of your doctors know about all of your medications.
  3. Do tell your doctor(s) about any OTC medications you are taking including vitamins and other supplements.
  4. Do use the same pharmacy so they can help you understand how to use all of your drugs safely and identify possible interactions.
  5. Do keep medications out of the reach of children and pets.


  1. Don’t change your medication dose or schedule unless you talk with your MD.
  2. Don’t use medication prescribed for someone else.
  3. Don’t crush or break pills unless your doctor or pharmacist advises you to.
  4. Don’t store your meds in locations that are humid, too hot or too cold. It is recommended that you don’t store medication in your bathroom, near your stove or in the refrigerator, unless the pharmacist indicates particular temperatures for the drug.
  5. Don’t use medication beyond its expiration date.

Dispose of Medications Safely

When medications have passed their expiration dates, disposing of them safely will protect you and others, including children and pets, and anyone who might find these meds in your trash. Safe disposal of meds also protects the environment from toxic pollutants.

The Federal Drug Administration (FDA) recommends the following disposal guidelines:

  • Remove drugs from their original containers and remove or scratch out identifying information from labels.
  • Do NOT crush pills or capsules.
  • Mix medications with kitty litter, coffee grounds, or another substance that will absorb them or make them undesirable.
  • Put this mixture into a sealable plastic bag or a bottle with screw-on lid and place in trash.
  • Check with your local police department or pharmacy for their drug take back plans.

Prescription Drug Disposal Day

Locally, the annual drug disposal day will occur at:

All County Sheriff Departments & Many Local Police Departments

Saturday, September 26, 2015

10:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m.

For more information about prescription drug disposal, contact the HFM Prevention Council at 736-8188, check with your local police agency or pharmacy, or call HealthLink Littauer at 736-1120. You can e-mail us at healthlink@nlh.org, see our website at nlh.org, or visit our NEW wellness center at 2 Colonial Court in downtown Johnstown, Monday – Friday, 9 a.m. – 5 p.m. We’re your community health & wellness service of Nathan Littauer Hospital and Nursing Home.

Wellness Words October 2013

HealthLink Littauer’s


Submitted by Wendy Chirieleison, MS Ed

Community Health Educator


Medication Safety

Did you know that Saturday, October 26th is National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day?  The purpose of this event is to provide a safe way for people to dispose of their unused or expired prescription drugs, and to educate the general public about the potential for prescription drug abuse.

In a 2006 National Survey on Drug Use and Health, The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration determined that 70% of children who abuse prescription drugs admit to getting them from family or friends.

Why can’t we just throw our medications in the trash?  According to AARP, participating in Take-Back Events will:

  • Minimize opportunities for people seeking to use discarded medications illegally or sell them.
  • Keep medications away from children and animals.
  • Keep toxins and chemicals in medications from polluting our environment.

Be Sure That Your Medications Are Safe and Secure

According to the National Council on Patient Information and Education, there are things we can do to ensure our medications are stored and disposed of safely:

  • Complete a medicine cabinet inventory at least every 6 months.
  • Check the expiration dates on medicine bottles and dispose of anything outdated (see safe disposal tips below).
  • Look for and dispose of any “leftovers,” or medications from a previous illness.
  • Keep medications in a location that is safe, cool, and dry as heat and humidity can damage medication.  Medications arriving by mail should not be left in a mailbox for too long.
  • Lock up medications, especially controlled substances, in locked boxes or drawers.
  • Keep your medications separate from those of your spouse or other family members.
  • Open pill bottles over a flat surface.  In the event that you drop or spill the bottle, pills will not land on the floor.
  • Keep medications in the bottles they came in.  Did you know the amber color protects medicine from the light?
  • Never mix different medications in the same bottle.
  • Keep lids on pill bottles closed tightly so a child can not open them.
  • Throw away any cotton that may be in your pill bottles as the cotton absorbs moisture and can negatively effect medications.
  • According to AARP, when traveling do not pack medications in a suitcase that will be put in the trunk of the car or that will be checked on a plane while flying due to heat conditions.
  • Safely dispose of outdated medications by participating in Take-Back events.
  • If that is not possible, crush pills or caplets if you can, and put them in cans or sealable bags.  Mix medications with substances like kitty litter, coffee grounds, flour, or sawdust.  Add water, mix, and seal the container.
  • Be sure to remove labels and other personal information from empty pill bottles.

There is a Prescription Drug Disposal Day scheduled for Fulton and Montgomery Counties on October 26 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.  Below is a list of the disposal sites for each county:

Fulton County

  • Johnstown City Police Department – 41 E. Main Street, Johnstown
  • Gloversville City Police Department – 3 Frontage Road, Gloversville

Montgomery County

  • MontgomeryCounty Sherriff – 200 Clark Drive, Fultonville
  • Canajoharie Police Department – 75 Erie Boulevard, Canajoharie
  • St. Johnsville Kinney Drugs – 12 Park Place, St. Johnsville
  • Fort Plain Police Department – 168 Canal Street, Fort Plain
  • Amsterdam Police Department – Guy Park Avenue Ext, Amsterdam

For more information, contact HealthLink Littauer at 736-1120.  You can e-mail us at healthlink@nlh.org, see our website at www.nlh.org, or visit our wellness center at 213 Harrison Street Ext. in Johnstown, Monday – Friday, 9 a.m. – 5 p.m.  We’re your community health & wellness service of Nathan Littauer Hospital and Nursing Home.